About Ibeji Art

 

Born in 2008, Ibeji Art was the result of a collaboration with my longtime friend Fausto Polo. By 2008, Fausto and I had known each other for many years and over the years what was a simple acquaintance had developed into a relationship of deep friendship and mutual esteem.

Both Fausto and I are originally from the Turin area, in the north of Italy. We met in the 1990’s due to our shared passion for stamp collecting. At that time I was already living in the USA, in Pennsylvania, but we were able to keep in constant contact through telephone and email.

Over the years, Fausto continued to develop his knowledge of African art, in particular the beautiful and powerful art of the Yoruba nation in Nigeria, and an incredible, renowned Yoruba artistic and cultural tradition now known as art of ere Ibeji, or “Ibeji twins” as they are commonly referred to in English and the art world more generally.

Between 2001 and 2005 Fausto wrote his first (and now famous) book on Ibeji, The Catalog of the Ibeji, a work in 2 volumes. It is a must-own for anyone even remotely interested in Ibeji. This book was created in collaboration with Jean David, a well-known Swiss gallery owner and scholar. The Catalog of the Ibeji was an immediate and huge success. It took a previously highly dispersed and unstructured topic about which collectors had become passionate and systematically classified the Ibeji in the most significant ways. It classified the Ibeji by identifying their place of origin using their sculptural characteristics.

After the success of The Catalog of the Ibeji, Fausto immediately thought of writing another book to help collectors improve the classification and understanding of the Ibeji. Hence the  Encyclopedia of the Ibeji  was born, another work that was the result of over two years of research and study and has become the reference point for all Ibeji collectors. This extraordinary work took the meticulous classification and depth of understanding and knowledge to a far deeper level. The Encyclopedia has become a primary reference book for large auction houses, galleries, collectors, scholars, and museums for classifying and learning about Ibeji. To date, the breadth and comprehensiveness of this work has never been repeated.

By 2007, I had become deeply passionate about Ibeji art. I decided to collaborate with my friend Fausto in the development and marketing of the Encyclopedia and creating a new web-based platform, www.ibejiart.com. Initially the www.ibejiart.com website was created only to promote and market the Encyclopedia of the Ibeji in four different languages (English, French, German and Italian), but we knew that collectors and art lovers wanted more. In a short time it was expanded with the creation of a Gallery, in which we offered of a limited number of very high quality Ibeji figures for sale. Finally, we began to offer private collectors, auction houses, and institutions a range of services including Appraisals and Certificates of Authenticity, and other important Ibeji-related books for purchase.

Since 2008, when www.ibejiart.com was posted on the web, over 300 high quality and guaranteed authentic Ibeji have been sold with an equal number of accompanying Certificates of Authenticity and Expertise, and hundreds of copies of the  Encyclopedia of the Ibeji have been sold.

During the same period,  Fausto, his son Mauro and I created ibejiarchive.com, a unique  and valuable non-commercial reference site where important and authentic Ibeji, authenticated by Fausto or Mauro Polo, are listed and classified.

In October 2017 Fausto suddenly left us, leaving a deep personal and professional void. But the collaboration in the activities of Ibeji Art and Ibeji Archive were continued by his son Mauro, who had been actively helping his father for decades with a lot of competence and passion.

In March 2020 Mauro also unexpectedly and suddenly passed away. The collaboration with Ibeji Art is now continued by Mauro’s son, Lorenzo Polo, who shares the same passion for the Ibeji and African Art as his father and grandfather.  The passion for this art has now continued for three generations within the same family.

Over the years the website Ibejiart.com has undergone several changes. This newest 2020 site rebirth is a decisive step forward to keep ibejiart.com site up to date by adopting the latest technologies available, using a new platform that will allow us to continue to develop over the years to come. We are excited about the possibilities and the site-based innovations we have in store in the coming months.

Today, Ibeji Art is a reference point for all Ibeji collectors, dedicated exclusively to this wonderful and unique sector of African art. Authentic Ibeji figures have become increasingly difficult to find, thanks to the growing demand from collectors, but we are proud to be able to continue to offer a repertoire of high quality antique material that is always guaranteed to be authentic. As always, we suggest collectors and buyers to beware of those offering "antique" or "authentic" ibeji for sale. Do your own due diligence and we are always here to offer a free consultation and a second set of eyes to help guide and inform you.  For any ibeji you may own currently, we have a range of services to assist and we also purchase high quality Ibeji. 

At the end of this short story of Ibeji Art I want to thank all the collectors, institutions, and gallery owners who have supported us over the years. It is only with your support that we have been allowed to continue this journey into the fascinating world of the Ibeji.

                                                                                                            Michele Maranzana, Co-founder, Owner

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